‘The stillness and the peace of now enfold you in perfect gentleness. Everything is gone except the truth’. T16.7.6
This article is a warm invitation to look at our understanding of ‘now’. Please come on in..
Maybe everyone who reads this will recognise the expression ‘The Power of Now’. Eckhart Tolle’s book has brought the idea into everyday awareness and helped it become a modern mantra of unquestioned good: be here now, be present.. Yet it may also be that we have some muddled thinking about the concept of ‘now’, confusing mindfulness with a gateway to eternity. I’ve been to many a nonduality meeting where participants have declared, ‘this is it, this is all there is, here, now’, pointing to the room and its furnishings and occupants.
The Course offers a very different and infinitely more inspiring understanding.
The following quote contains deep teaching about time:
‘The past is gone, and what is present, freed from its bequest of grief and misery, of pain and loss, becomes the instant in which time escapes the bondage of illusions where it runs its pitiless, inevitable course. Then is each instant that was slave to time transformed into a holy instant, when the light that was kept hidden in God’s Son is freed to bless the world’. Lesson194
The quote starts with using the term ‘present’ in a worldly sense; it follows on from the past. The quote goes on to say that the present is freed of the past’s grief and misery when we realise that not only is the past is gone, but that it never had any real effects at all! The present is then an instant in time which is released from illusions, and so it’s released from time itself. It becomes the holy present. The opening from worldly present to the holy instant is the true power of now.
If only for a moment we allow our minds to be clear of the pain of the past – which generates guilt in the physical present and fear of future punishment – we will automatically experience the holy instant.
‘The holy instant is a miniature of Heaven, sent to you from Heaven.. there are no bodies, and you experience only the attraction of God.. It is the recognition that all minds are in communication’. T17.4.11, T15.9.7, T15.4.6
This may seem out of reach, way beyond the everyday. It is and it isn’t! Yes, it’s very different from our worldly experience, but it’s most natural to our true minds. The Course gives encouragement:
‘Start now to practice your little part in separating out the holy instant.. To learn to separate out this single second, and to experience it as timeless, is to begin to experience yourself as not separate. Fear not that you will not be given help in this.. It is only your weakness that will depart from you in this practice, for it is the practice of the power of God in you. Use it but for one instant, and you will never deny it again’. T15.2.6
Here’s an exercise to support practicing the holy instant, which I hope you will find helpful. Please read the following a couple of times, then close your eyes and go through it again in your mind.
Sit quietly and call in the Holy Spirit to be your Guide for this process. Slowly look around your surroundings. Notice the objects, the colours, the shapes. Be aware of your body being in this location, at this time of the day, on this date. Become disinterested in any thoughts of the past or future and allow them to fade away. Be mindfully present of your ‘worldly now’. This is a great steppingstone, gathering the mind in from its meanderings along the timeline.
After a few minutes of resting, close your eyes and take your mind from the horizontal plane to the vertical plane. Visualise a column of light rising from underneath your feet, fully encompassing your body and stretching up to the sky and beyond. This vertical column of light becomes your new surroundings, with all else receding. Rest in this column of light, becoming aware that it is independent of time, that it’s a miniature of Heaven, sent from Heaven. The things of time cannot enter this column of light: time doesn’t exist here. ‘The holy instant reaches to eternity, and to the Mind of God’. Feel what this is like, perhaps allowing the sense of the body to grow feint, allowing a Divine Presence to fill your awareness. Let this column of Light act as a splint, supporting you to experience the Great Rays.
‘In the holy instant, where the Great Rays replace the body in awareness, the recognition of relationships without limit is given you’. T15.9.3
‘Think like Him ever so slightly, and the little spark becomes a blazing light that fills your mind so that He becomes your only Guest’. T11.2.5
If we stop at the worldly now as our goal, the present will indeed be an empty promise of peace and happiness. Our present surroundings and current human thinking are illusions, still blocking us from the holy now. If we want the worldly now to be real, it will bring guilt, which will mean more projection and fear of future punishment, keeping us well and truly tied to time. However, if we see the worldly now as a portal to the holy instant, we are choosing truth and the end of guilt; we are choosing to remember our Home and our shared Peace and Happiness.
‘In the sunlight you will stand in quiet, in innocence and wholly unafraid. And from you will the rest you found extend, so that your peace can never fall away and leave you homeless. Those who offer peace to everyone have found a home in Heaven the world cannot destroy’. T25.4.4
This practice and intention to live in the holy instant, the holy present, the holy now, offers us the power to forgive, to join, to heal, to work miracles. I’d like to share about a recent experience to illustrate this practice and intention.
My neighbours across the street had taken to leaving 3 of their 6 wheelie bins permanently on the pavement. What a wonderful forgiveness opportunity! This is how my thinking progressed:
‘that’s really inconsiderate, I hope it will be temporary.. oh, no, it seems to be their ongoing decision.. Holy Spirit, please heal my mind of irritation and judgement, which isn’t anything to do with the neighbours, it’s because I’ve chosen to be separate.. I feel fear about confronting them.. maybe I don’t have to, it’s only a dream.. but this is my dream and I have inconsiderate figures in this dream.. they are really my brothers.. I choose to join with them in a holy instant, beyond all ideas of wheelie bins and antisocial behaviour.. this will bring peace and You will show me what to do’.
In the holy instant practice with these neighbours/brothers came a knowing that I’ve been in conflict with one of them before, in at least one past life. I started to focus on joining with this one, seeing us united and beyond conflict. A beautiful peace arose, and I felt connected with all of them in a completely new way. Before, they had just been ‘the neighbours across the street’. Now they were my brothers calling for love, which has to be my call for love.
‘Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace, but let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming’. T19.4.C.i.11
I was then prompted to put a note through both doors (the bins belong to a downstairs and upstairs flat) asking them politely to take the bins off the pavement. Within an hour the bins had been taken in by the downstairs tenant. Wow! Healing! I was so grateful. An hour later, the bins were taken out again by the upstairs owners of the property. Wow! More healing being offered! More joining in a holy instant..
Seeing us all within the column of Light, I put a note through both doors to say that it’s illegal to leave bins out and I hope they will change their decision. I felt peaceful and connected with these neighbours, seeing this wheelie bin exchange as the mechanism for our joining and that it didn’t really matter how the story unfolded. An hour later, the bins were taken back in and they’ve stayed in.
‘Attempt to solve no problems but within the holy instant’s surety’. T27.4.3
I’m now taking the column of Light practice with me on daily walks. I visualise myself in a column of Light and also every other body I see to be in a similar column. It’s become routine to see all bodies in columns of Light, symbolising their mind’s transition from the worldly now to the holy instant. As I pass other bodies I can feel the columns gently rotating each other, reminding me of the Tibetan prayer wheel practice. It’s so very beautiful, bringing soft and gentle connection with everyone. Maybe you’d like to try this?
As I’m writing now, I have a sense of this article in a column of Light, gently rotating a column of Light around you as you’re reading, and I feel a powerful Presence arising from this joining. I wonder if you feel this too..
I’ll close with some inspiring words from the Course and join you in a holy instant of gratitude for this blessed, profound teaching.
‘It is through the holy instant that what seems impossible is accomplished, making it evident that it is not impossible’. T15.7.14
‘A miracle is now. It stands already here, in present grace’. T26.8.5
‘For in this instant has forgiveness come to set me free.. Love is ever-present, here and now’. Lesson 308
Choosing to receive miracles, work miracles, living in grace, loving in the holy now.. Amen!
‘This world is full of miracles. They stand in shining silence next to every dream of pain’